I recently had a post about whether a person could be born gay. Is is possible for a person to actually be born gay? If so, what is the Biblical response?
Question 1: Isn’t “Abomination” a culture reference rather than a spiritual/sin reference?
The question points to the use of the Hebrew word “Toevah.” It occurs 126 times in the Old Testament and it means “a disgusting thing, abomination, abominable.” It carries both a ritual and an ethical sense.
The ritual use of the word relates to Jewish law relating to unclean food, idols, marriage to non Jews, etc. It is an abomination for a Jew to worship an idol (Deuteronomy 7:25, 27:15).
The word also carries an ethical or moral distinction. When Jewish practices were considered wicked, they are often described using “toevah.” These types of practices are described in Leviticus 18 and 20. Those things that are considered wicked include, sexual relations with animals, homosexual acts, etc.
An important point to note is that Leviticus 18 begins by telling the Jewish people that the statutes and judgments that are about to be given are from the LORD. These are His ways. They are not to do the things that Egyptians or the Canaanites did, they are to walk according to His laws.
The homosexual act is a detestable thing. It is an abomination. It is an ethical or moral offense. Leviticus 18:30 says “Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the LORD your God.” The “toevah” customs of the Canaanites, if practiced, defiles oneself with God. This is sin. It is not an expression of a cultural exclusion. It relates to the very nature of God’s law and is to be understood as sin.
Question 2: Shouldn’t the term translated “Homosexual” in the New Testament be better translated “effeminate”?
Paul, in I Corinthians 6, relates certain behaviors or practices that are inconsistent with Christian living. In that list he includes idolaters and adulterers as well as “malakos” and “arsenokoites.” The question is related to the meaning of these two Greek terms.
Do they refer to homosexual behavior or does it refer to some other type of behavior that would exclude one from the Kingdom of Heaven?
The word “malakos” is used three times in the New Testament. It is found in Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 translated “soft.” It is used to refer to clothing that is soft to the touch. It is used a third time in I Corinthians 6:9 and the translators have used the English word “effeminate.” With such little usage in the NT it is difficult to draw an accurate interpretation of the word.
It is obvious from the context in Corinthians that the meaning differs from the meaning in Matthew and Luke. The Corinthians passage has no reference to clothes and there is no reason to assume from other portions of Scripture that preferring soft fabrics for ones clothing is a sin and would make one unworthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the Greek culture, the use of the word “malakos” had a metaphorical meaning beyond the term “soft.” According to Thayer’s Lexicon, the terms alternate meaning is “effeminate, of a catamite, a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness.”
“Malakos” as used by Paul in I Corinthians must be understood to mean a male youth who is engaged in sexual relationships with a man. It is a homosexual sex act that might be best described as pedophilia.
At best this term would be aptly translated homosexual and at worst it would be translated pedophile.
The second term used, “arsenokoites,” in the text is used two times in the New Testament. In both instances the term is translated homosexual. It is found in I Corinthians 6:9 and in I Timothy 1:10. Both passages are list of sins that should not be found in the life of the believer.
There is no ambiguity with the meaning of this word. The term literally means “one who lies with a male as with a female, a sodomite.”
Paul is not using ambiguous terms to describe this sinful behavior. It is a homosexual act that is included in the list of those who will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
Question 3: What does Paul mean in Romans 1, “exchange the natural function”?
The interesting thing about this passage to me is that it is the clearest exposition on homosexuality in the New Testament. Paul explains the progression to homosexuality in a clear and sound argument. This is a passage that is difficult to twist because Paul is so clear.
The use of the phrase “exchange the natural function” in Romans 1:26 is defined more clearly by the same usage in verse 27. This phrase is explicitly related to abandoning heterosexual relationships and committing “indecent acts” in a homosexual relationship.
Verse 26 is specific to lesbian relationships and verse 27 is specific to gay relationships. Paul clearly explains that this type of behavior is contrary to the plan and purpose of God.
The conclusion of the matter is that homosexuality is a sin along the same line as adultery, greed, envy, malice, stealing, etc. Paul explains that these behaviors are not to be part of the Christian life. He says in I Corinthians 6 that some believers where once engaged in these various behaviors. But as a Christian, it should no longer be a part of our life.
Will we fail? Sure. Will we struggle with sin? Absolutely. But that is not an excuse to continue to sin. Paul asked, “Shall we continue to sin so that Grace may abound?” His response was “May it never be!”